The Contradictions of Morihei Ueshiba, or the Making Sense of O Sensei

O Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba, is Revealed by Contradiction

To understand Morihei Ueshiba, the man known as O Sensei, one needs to examine contradictions in his life. This is something that most people, enraptured in reverie, do not do, and this is sad. For it is contradiction that we isolate the crucibles of existence, and the truth of what makes a man.

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There is one truth, my friends…

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O Sensei was sick and weakly as a child, and lived a sheltered existence. His father tried to encourage him with tales of his Samurai grandfather. Did the manly tales cause him to grow strong…or encourage him to regard dreams as inspiration?

O Sensei studied briefly with many before he adhered to the teachings of Takeda Sokaku. Was he a flake waiting for a boulder to roll over him and pick him up? Or was there sufficient substance in his soul that he was a seeker par excellence?

Early martial arts training included much attention on Atemi, or Striking points. Linear approaches to techniques varied from linear to circular to linear, at certain points of the founders life. Eventually techniques became more focused on kokyu-nage, or Breath Throws, and this is often considered the pure aikido.

The third most important man in Morihei’s life was Onisaburo Degushi, the leader of the omoto-kyu religion. Interestingly, this religion, considered a woman’s religion, was sometimes involved in political upheaval. One can sincerely ask the question whether the techniques of Aikido are female in nature.

Spirituality is at the essence of Aikido. One can easily  make the point that the art changed over the years in response to the evolving and experienced spirituality of Ueshiba. Often held up as the pivotal experience of his life, the founder’s enlightenment and firm conviction that the universe is love, obviously tempered his technical approach.

Though sickly as a youth, O Sensei became immensely strong over the years. Eventually, age robbed him of all but spiritual strength. Once again, we have a firm clue to the evolution of technique and art in the Master’s Art.

Having said all the above, having compared and contrasted the founder of one of the world’s most significant martial arts forms, one is left with certain conclusions. Linear to circular, strength to harmony, even male to female, there is a significance of evolution which should be studied, and can aid any student’s understanding of this most mystical art. In conclusion, to understand Morihei Ueshiba, the man known as O Sensei, one must look past the white washed glorification of his life, and understand that he was earthy, real, and possessed of immortal character.

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